Music composer AR Rahman's music concert in Chennai on Sunday, 10 September, turned into a 'nightmare' for those attending with mismanagement of crowd, resulting a stampede-like situation at the entrance. Several women also complained that they were allegedly harassed in the chaos that followed.
The concert titled 'Marakumma Nenjam' took place at the Adityaram Palace City in Chennai's East Coast Road, weeks after it was rescheduled due to rains in August.
What happened? Many fans took to social media to slam Rahman and ACTC Events, with complaints of:
Complaints of poor crowd control
No seating arrangement
Over-selling of tickets in comparison to the venue’s capacity
Lack of parking facilities
After backlash, Rahman and ACTC Events responded that they will work on refunding tickets of those who were unable to enter the venue, and asked the fans to reach out to an email address.
After the organisers of the concert issued a public apology on social media, Rahman spoke to The Hindu at length about what happened on Sunday evening, which led to the massive outrage. “It was tsunami of people and love that we were unable to handle," the music composer said. “As a composer, my job was to give a terrific show, and I thought everything else would be taken care of. I was just thinking it shouldn’t rain, and was happily performing inside, without any idea of what was happening outside. Our intentions were good, but I think the response was beyond our expectations."
Rahman further said that he was “terribly disturbed" by how things turned out at the venue. “Right now, we are just terribly disturbed. Safety was the primary issue, especially because there were women and kids. I don’t want to point fingers at anyone, but we have to realise that the city is expanding, and the passion to consume music and art is also expanding."
Who said what? Fans, who attended the concert, alleged that the place was overcrowded as the organisers sold more tickets than they should ideally have. As a result, the venue had at least twice the number of people that it could accommodate, making it difficult for those who had come to even get in.
"AR Rahman's concert tonight was the most traumatic event I've ever been to. Thousands of people with tickets were being sent out, not allowed to enter because thousands of tickets were oversold. There was nobody to direct anyone, the ticket booth was abandoned," a fan wrote on X.
Another wrote, “It was worst concert ever in the History #ARRahman #Scam2023 by #ACTC. Respect Humanity. 30 Years of the Fan in me died today Mr. #ARRAHMAN. #MarakkumaNenjam Marakkavey Mudiyathu, . A performer in the stage can’t never see what’s happening at other areas just watch it.”
Women fans subjected to harassment? “We were struggling to breathe and were also violated. The fan in me died today,” a fan said, adding that the men used 'chaos as cover.'
"Woke up to having such a weight in my heart. The unsafe feeling i have today is haunting me. One of the people who groped me, literally looked into my eyes when I just asked him for the way and move," another user wrote on X.
The phrase 'Marakumma Nenjam' translates to 'will the heart ever forget.' What could have been a 'unforgettable' night of music for the women, turned into an 'unforgettable, harrowing and traumatic night', for many who attended the concert.
"I asked a man, whom I addressed as Anna (brother), the way to leave the venue as I had a panic attack. He looked me in the eye, and the next thing I knew, his hand was on my breasts and I was groped. I froze. I couldn't move an inch. A horrific, traumatising experience I can never get over," a 31-year-old independent filmmaker, who attended AR Rahman's concert in Chennai on Sunday, 10 September, reported by The Quint.
She is one among the many women who have spoken about the alleged harassment and molestation they were subjected to, when they attended ARR's 'Marakumma Nenjam' concert in Chennai's ECR.
Another fan echoed similar sentiments and said, “The ARR concert-the absolute s**tshow. It got to a point where it was actually unsafe for people. We saw people faint, cry, panic and get anxiety attacks. A refund wouldn’t cover what we had to endure. I hope everyone at the concert gets home safe and the ones in charge are held accountable.”
The event organiser's response: ACTC Events, the event organiser, assured of compensating the attendees who could not attend the event due to overcrowding.
"Grateful to Chennai and the legendary @arrahman Sir! The incredible response, the overwhelming crowd made our show a massive success. Those who couldn't attend on overcrowding, Our sincere apologies. We take full responsibility and accountability. We are with you. #MarakkumaNenjam," the organisation said on their X handle.
However, the tweet led to more anger among the fans. While some termed it a half-hearted one, while others asked the event organisers to take accountability for what transpired during the concert on Sunday.